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Buddhist monks to create intricate sand artwork near Spring Green

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Buddhist monks create a sand mandala

Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta work on a sand mandala at the Memorial Union in 2009 as part of the Madison World Music Festival. Tibetan monks from India will create a sand mandala near Spring Green this month.

A group of Tibetan monks will spend a week, beginning Sunday,

creating an elaborate piece of artwork near Spring Green out of tiny grains of colored sand.

At the end of the week, the artwork, called a mandala, will be ritualistically destroyed and tossed into the Wisconsin River, symbolizing the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life.

The entire process will be open and free to the public.

“It’s a relatively rare opportunity in the U.S. to see this intricate art form,” said Marion Nelson, owner of Global View, a for-profit shop in a five-level, rebuilt barn that sells Asian art and is hosting the monks in partnership with the nonprofit Mahayana Dharma teaching center.

The monks will stay at the teaching center, which is next door to Global View in an old farmhouse. The structures are in the town of Clyde, about nine miles southwest of Spring Green.

The monks will be part of a Himalayan Festival held every four years at the site. The festival includes Tibetan music, food and vendors.

The monks will be coming from the Drepung Goman Monastery in India. They will be selling items and accepting donations to raise money for the monastery, said Nelson, a student of Buddhism who has been traveling to India for 41 years.

The sand mandala will honor the Green Tara, the female Buddha.

“She brings health and prosperity and removes fear,” Nelson said. “She serves all sentient beings with compassion.”

Nelson said she last hosted monks from the Drepung Goman Monastery in the 1990s.

Various Buddhist monks have demonstrated the art of sand mandalas in the Midwest over the years.

Last year, nine monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in India spent a week in residency at Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minn., creating a sand mandala. In 2009, monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta created a mandala at Memorial Union on the UW-Madison campus as part of the Madison World Music Festival.

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